Ostensibly, by taking on the meticulous daily chores of IT, managed IT providers allow the CTO or CIO of a business to focus on more strategic operational objectives.
Fifteen years ago, this may have been a perfectly fine answer to the “What is managed IT?” question. At the time, technologies were just starting to become accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses. For most of them, implementing even the most basic IT infrastructure was a huge accomplishment.
Today, managed IT shouldn’t just identify ways to leverage technology to support business objectives, but to evolve those objectives, as well. Never before have such powerful tools been at our disposal to inform and influence business intelligence, but those with the ability to wield these tools purposely are rare.
To be clear, the rudimentary IT functions mentioned above shouldn’t be overlooked. Creating a cohesive, reliable process for your business’s day-to-day operations is the foundation on which everything is built.
When most people think, “What is managed IT?”, help desk solutions are what comes to mind. Your IT vendor provides access to an on-call IT specialist. When your staff member encounters a problem, they submit a ticket to this IT specialist, who helps them address the issue in real time.
When it comes to help desk services, response time is key. Resolving problems quickly helps avoid or minimize downtime.
But most managed IT providers don’t use help desk data to gain insights about the business. At Vudu, we track and analyze help desk data to identify which departments are submitting the most tickets and which problems are consuming the bulk of your overall IT spend.
IT vendors help businesses secure and back up troves of data, usually through databases hosted and maintained by the vendor. If the business loses its data, the IT provider can help restore it from the database.
But simply hoarding data isn’t enough. Most IT vendors don’t offer the ability or approach to analyze that data to glean actionable insights. At Vudu, we use your wealth of data to monitor parts of your business that were previously invisible, digging down to find opportunities you never knew were there.
With cyber crimes on the rise, security should be top of mind for any business. IT providers can help guard against bad actors, viruses, spam, and other threats using a firewall.
That being said, most IT providers lack the expertise to provide adequate security for highly regulated industries, like healthcare and banking. At Vudu, we know the effect a new law or governance can have on a business, and we know how to adapt security protocols and other IT functions to achieve compliance without compromising greater business objectives.
Unsurprisingly, break/fix support means the IT vendor will fix aspects of the system that are broken and actively causing a detriment to the business.
The break/fix mentality encapsulates everything wrong with the managed IT industry. IT providers and specialists who are primarily concerned with repairing system breaks and preventing them in the future are treating the symptoms, but not the disease. This approach leaves a vacuum in your business intelligence and falls far short of a true technology partner who can help your business reach its full potential.
Optimizing these functions is imperative. According to Gartner, one single minute of downtime costs an industry average of $5,600.
However, running the daily operational management engine of your business is merely the blocking and tackling that must be done to facilitate the bigger game your business is playing.
Most IT vendors don’t think that way. They can’t see down the field and help you call the plays to move your business forward.
The finish line for most IT vendors is the starting line for Vudu.
Our first priority is level-setting the daily IT operations of our client’s business. Through the process, we gain a deep understanding of your business, and we use those insights to create tangible goals along the lifecycle of our relationship.
“What is managed IT?” you ask?
Businesses typically grow dissatisfied with their IT partners for a few different reasons.
1. The needs of the business have outgrown the capabilities of the managed IT vendor.
As the business scales, its inefficiencies scale, too. If an IT vendor is break/fix-minded and reactive, this can increase the volume of support tickets, taxing the capacity of the vendor and leading to longer resolution times.
2. Younger disruptors are chewing away at the business's market share.
These new competitors use more current systems that allow them to out-maneuver the legacy business and beat them to new opportunities. The business's IT vendor can't make strategic recommendations on what the business needs to implement to stay dominant.
3. The business must comply with a new regulation or market mandate.
In this scenario, the stakes are high, and the business doesn't trust their current IT vendor to handle the task. Not only will a failure to comply impede the business's progress and cost substantial revenue, it will inflict reputational damage, as well.
4. The business has suffered a catastrophic event.
To some degree, the event was caused or exacerbated by their IT vendor's negligence or inability. This could be a data breach, a massive system failure, or some other high-cost blunder that demands a change.
5. The business's leadership simply does not feel well-served.
Maybe the IT vendor doesn't communicate the changes they're making or update you on their performance. Maybe you start hearing complaints from your employees about slow connections, app malfunctions, or missing files. Maybe you've noticed a few surprises on the bill from your IT vendor. Ultimately, it's a gut feeling, a lack of trust that makes you hesitate about the relationship's contribution to your business's future.
If you have an IT partner already, what is managed IT doing for your business? If you struggle to answer that question, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship with them.
Technology is changing all the time. For us, that’s exciting. For you, it can be exhausting to keep up. You’re already an expert at what you do, and it’s tough enough to stay ahead of the game in your own field. When it comes to technology and how it can impact your business, you don’t know what you don’t know.
A true managed IT partner fills that void at the leadership level, leveraging their experience and know-how to pour rocket fuel on your workflow. They live on the bleeding edge of the tech industry. Above all, they are proactive and well-equipped to understand your business and predict opportunities.
The results look different for every organization, but here are some common results we’ve helped achieve at Vudu:
Drastically reduce the timeframe of decision-making. For one client, we took them from a weekly decisioning interval to an hourly interval.
Reduce the cost of your end product. For one client, we helped reduce their cost per unit from $36 to $6.
Implement new frameworks. For one client, helped them stand up a new customer-facing application portal within one week.
New technology will continue to emerge at a rapid pace, but these outcomes don’t stem from software alone. They come from a partnership built on trust and the expertise to wield powerful technology and apply it to a larger business strategy.
If you’re in the market for an IT partner, you may not know exactly what you’re looking for. What you do know is that you have a goal and obstacles standing between where you are and where you want to be. That should be enough for a worthy managed IT vendor to start with.
If you’re coming off an IT relationship that ended poorly, you probably know what you don’t want. If you’re hiring an IT partner for the first time, your choice of vendor will massively influence the course of your business.
Either way, it’s important to choose wisely. As you vet potential partners, here are some questions you should ask beyond the obvious necessities of scope, competencies, and price.
How can the IT vendor support business strategy and outcomes?
Has the IT vendor worked in your industry before? Can they meet the industry's compliance standards? If the answer is "no," are they willing to do the research to become knowledgeable of the industry?
How has the vendor helped other clients?
How can the IT vendor help optimize your business's daily workflow?
How will the relationship benefit your employees?
How and how often does the IT provider measure and report on their performance?
How does the IT vendor document its progress?
Does the IT vendor communicate on a regular basis?
What if this relationship turns out to be a bad fit?
These questions will help you get a feel for the vendor’s approach. To help your business meet its full potential, you need an IT partner who will take a holistic, proactive role in your strategy.
Your potential partner should ask just as many questions. They should seek to understand your goals and pain points beyond your surface-level IT needs. They should ask why you’re looking for a vendor and why you left your previous provider.
What is managed IT going to look like in the future?
That’s a powerful question. We predict that managed IT providers who can function as the CTO and influence business strategy will become the norm. Break/fix-minded order-takers will fade into extinction.
Why? Not only have businesses become saturated in technology, but your end customers have, too. The average Joe is more technologically savvy, literate, and capable than ever before. Consequently, the expectations individuals and businesses hold around technology will grow even more rigorous.
At Vudu, we call this phenomenon “tech intensity,” and it results from a combination of tech adoption, tech capability, and trust in tech.
Our formula ensures that we consider every aspect of our client’s business and how we can improve it to empower their employees, better engage their customers, optimize their internal operations, and transform their work product.
For managed IT service providers, data storage is a given. But what is managed IT doing to help make that data actionable? What is managed IT doing to help structure and manage data, especially in highly-regulated industries with strict data governance requirements?
It’s a common misconception that data is a panacea, that it tells the story on its own. Most businesses don’t have a strategy around what data they collect or how they collect it. Their data ends up spread across several databases that don’t talk to one another.
At the end of the day, data is a business asset that deserves its own line on the company’s balance sheet. Every employee from frontline workers to C-level leaders should have access to high-quality, impactful data that gives clarity to performance objectives and KPIs.
The services typically provided by a managed IT service are just the first pieces of the puzzle. Once they’re put into place, we keep building to flesh out the bigger picture. We help you understand what your data is telling you, and we use that knowledge as a North Star to bring all departments into cohesion.
At Vudu, we are business-minded technology wizards whose capabilities extend beyond the normal realm of managed IT. We have a unique ability to convert data into insights, insights into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom. With that wisdom, our clients can make better decisions for their businesses and bring about supernatural transformation.